By Diana Palmieri
How much do you know about your combined retirement assets? Are you aware of how much your spouse is putting away in his or her retirement plan? Are you going to live on a pension? Do you have a savings plan? Will you have social security?
A recent Fidelity Investments Couples Retirement Survey released in May of this year details that couples are struggling with planning and management of their retirement assets. Here are a few of the statistics from the survey:
• 17 percent of couples are completely confident that either spouse is prepared to assume responsibility of joint retirement finances.
• 33 percent of couples either don’t agree or don’t know where they plan to retire.
• 62 percent of couples approaching retirement don’t agree on expected retirement age.
• 73 percent of all couples disagree on whether or not they have completed a detailed retirement income plan.
Furthermore, wives are often not as involved and are less knowledgeable about their retirement finances. This concerned me most because women generally tend to outlive men, and not understanding what is in their futures financially is a recipe for disaster.
I have come up with a simple yet effective way to talk to your spouse about your financial futures. The LOVE system (might sound corny but please read on) is a simple checklist to get this financial fire lit under yourself so that you pursue a confident and prosperous future together.
The LOVE Plan:
LEARN: Sit down and learn about what you have collectively. This would be the time to talk about savings, retirement accounts, and insurance. How much do you want to continue putting away? Do you have wills, health care proxies, or power of attorney in place? What is your biggest fear in retirement? Ask these questions, come to a financial understanding, and set a goal for yourselves.
OVERVIEW: Gather your brokerage, insurance, bank, and any other account statements, and put them on a spreadsheet. Both of you look them over and gain an understanding of exactly what you have in assets. Talk about what you owe on your mortgage and other outstanding debts. Get a financial overview of yourselves.
VERIFY: Who gets what? Verify with each institution that holds your assets the beneficiaries on your accounts and policies. Doing this now will save future headaches for your heirs. Make sure your spouse knows who gets what and how it’s going to be dispersed. Also have documents in place should one of you become incapacitated. Know where all of your important documents are kept, and make sure a family member knows where they are in the event that you both cannot act on behalf of one another.
EXPECTATIONS: So now that you have all this together, are youe doing enough? When do you want to retire? Where do you want to live? What are your expectations? What will you live on? Discuss anticipated expenses in retirement (such as healthcare and long-term care) and discretionary expenses (such as future vacations and a new car). Try to get a clear picture of what you will spend vs. what you have, and come to an agreement on a common goal.
It's also important to talk about what could happen in the event one of you became disabled. Find out about your current disability insurance that you or your spouse may have on the job or inquire about a private insurance plan. You need to find out how long your coverage lasts and how much you will get.
The important thing is to get this conversation going long before you retire. Getting into financial alignment is so very important now so that as a couple you can confidently and comfortably retire. Working with a financial advisor can also help you along this road. Don’t delay, feel the LOVE right now.
The information contained in this article is not intended to constitute legal, accounting, tax, investment, consulting or other professional advice or services. For specific information that applies to your circumstances you should consult a qualified tax advisor or independent professional advisory.
Diana Palmieri is dually registered with Vanderbilt Securities LLC and H Beck Inc., which are unaffiliated. Securities offered through Vanderbilt Securities LLC, member SIPC/FINRA/MSRB.